The Minnesota Vikings have announced the following five coaches will join Head Coach Kevin O’Connell’s staff:
Matt Daniels – Special Teams Coordinator
Daronte Jones – Defensive Backs
Ben Kotwica – Assistant Special Teams
Wes Phillips – Offensive Coordinator
Mike Smith – Outside Linebackers/Pass Rush Specialist
Matt Daniels enters his fifth season of coaching in the NFL and first with the Vikings as special teams coordinator, after spending the past two seasons as the assistant special teams coach with the Dallas Cowboys. Prior to his time with Dallas, Daniels served as the assistant special teams coach for the Los Angeles Rams from 2018-19 and as a graduate assistant for defense at the University of Colorado in 2017. Daniels had a four-year playing career in the NFL at safety from 2012-15, where he spent time with the St. Louis Rams, Jacksonville Jaguars and San Diego Chargers, following a collegiate career at Duke. In his two seasons with Dallas, Daniels helped the special teams unit see instant upgrades in the rankings from 2019. The 2021 group led the league in most special teams touchdowns with three, two blocked punts and a kick return. He also helped P Bryan Anger earn his first Pro Bowl honor after finishing sixth in the league in yards per punt (48.35).
Daronte Jones, who was the Vikings defensive backs coach in 2020, returns to Minnesota in 2022 after serving as the defensive coordinator/defensive backs coach at LSU last season. Entering his sixth season in the NFL, Jones previously spent two years with the Cincinnati Bengals as the secondary/cornerbacks coach from 2018-19 and with the Miami Dolphins as the assistant defensive backs coach from 2016-17. Jones became the defensive coordinator/defensive backs coach at LSU for the 2021 season, helping LB Damone Clark earn Second Team All-America honors, be selected as a finalist for the Butkus Award and win SEC Defensive Player of the Week twice on the season.
Ben Kotwica returns to the NFL for his 13th season and first with the Vikings the assistant special teams coach. He previously served as the director of player development for the United States Military Academy this past year, following his time as special teams coordinator for the Atlanta Falcons from 2019-20, the Washington Commanders from 2014-18 and the New York Jets in 2013. He got his coaching start as the defensive coordinator for the U.S. Military Academy Prep School from 2005-06 before taking on the role of defense/special teams quality control assistant (2007-08) and assistant special teams coach (2009-12) for the New York Jets. Kotwica played linebacker for the United States Military Academy at West Point from 1993-96, and upon graduation served eight years in the U.S. Army.
Wes Phillips adds 16 years of NFL coaching experience to the staff, most recently serving as pass game coordinator/tight ends coach for the Los Angeles Rams, who won Super Bowl LVI over the Cincinnati Bengals. Phillips has been a tight ends coach since 2013, helping a player from his unit post 500-plus receiving yards in nine consecutive seasons. In 2019, the first year of Phillips’ tenure with the Rams, TE Tyler Higbee set career highs in receptions (69) and receiving yards (734). He spent the past three seasons with the Los Angeles Rams as the tight ends coach in 2019-20 and pass game coordinator/tight ends coach in 2021. Phillips assisted in QB Matthew Stafford’s first season with the team, helping him throw for the third-most passing yards (4,886) and second-most touchdowns (41) in the NFL, all while achieving his career-best 102.9 passer rating (in season’s with more than eight starts).
Mike Smith joins as the Vikings as outside linebackers/pass rush specialist after spending the past three seasons with the Green Bay Packers, bringing 10 years of NFL coaching experience to Minnesota. Smith worked with Assistant Head Coach Mike Pettine, while he was the defensive coordinator in Green Bay (2019-20) and for the New York Jets (2010-12). Vikings Head Coach Kevin O’Connell also played quarterback for the Jets from 2009-11, while Pettine and Smith were on staff. During the 2021 season, Smith coached LBs Rashan Gary and Preston Smith to nine-plus sack seasons, becoming the second linebacker duo in team history to accomplish this feat. The other duo was P. Smith and LB Za’Darius Smith, who were both coached by M. Smith in 2019. The Packers were one of two teams to have two linebackers record nine-plus sacks in 2021. The Arizona Cardinals – LBs Chandler Jones (10.5) and Markus Golden (11.0) – were the other team.
(info courtesy of Vikings)